Originally created 04/25/05

Two Dawgs taking over Bengal defense



CINCINNATI - David Pollack hadn't even landed in Cincinnati when his cell phone rang with the unexpected news.

This Dawg wasn't going it alone.

For three years at Georgia, the defensive lineman played alongside linebacker Odell Thurman, developing into a formidable tandem on a hard-hitting defense. They're very different in background, personality and position, but hit it off because they're so much alike in one bottom-line way.

They love to hit the guy with the ball.

"We fed off each other so much in college, it was incredible," Pollack said. "If he makes a big hit, I get mad because I wanted to be the one making the big hit, and it just makes me push harder. We definitely feed off each other's energy."

Pollack went to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the NFL draft on Saturday, the 17th pick overall. He quickly packed and caught a flight to his new home.

While he was still in the air, the Bengals kept the matching set together by taking Thurman in the second round. It's the first time in franchise history that their first two picks came from the same school.

Pollack's fiancee and family called with the news before Thurman could get through on the phone. The college buddies finally reconnected while Pollack was at Paul Brown Stadium talking to the coaching staff.

"That's awesome for Cincinnati, the kind of player he is," Pollack said Sunday. "I'm glad he's on our side. He'll definitely knock some people out."

The Bengals plan to move Pollack to outside linebacker. Thurman is a middle linebacker. Both of them are overwhelmed by the thought of playing side-by-side in Cincinnati for years to come.

"It's been a thrill playing with Pollack for three years, and now I get to play with him for however long they have us now," Thurman said. "So, it's going to be great, man.

"Being Georgia leaders, we had to bond with each other in order to communicate with the other guys on the team."

Pollack played four years at Georgia, developing into one of the team's most vocal leaders. He doesn't swear. He addresses strangers as "sir." He stays out of trouble.

"I am what I am," Pollack said. "I don't change for anybody. I'm not going to be out drinking and partying and all that stuff. I don't do that."

Two years ago, he was one of 22 college players picked for Playboy's All-America team. He declined the invitation to appear in a magazine photo for the occasion.

"I speak at a lot of churches, speak to a lot of kids about living right and not putting yourself in compromising situations," Pollack said. "If you don't put yourself in bad situations, the bad things don't happen. I had no desire to be a part of that. That's their business. There's nothing wrong with what they do, it's just not something I want to associate with."

Thurman had a tougher path through life. His mother died in a car accident when he was 10 years old, so he was raised by his grandmother. His father died before the 2003 season from liver and kidney failure.

He had a few problems during his three seasons at Georgia - dismissed from the team as a freshman for fights and other difficulties, suspended for the first three games of his junior season for violating team rules.

His friend stands up for him.

"Nobody's perfect," Pollack said. "Everybody makes mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger than others. He's a great kid. Everybody goes astray and I think he's handled it maturely, coming back. He's not a guy that goes out all the time and gets in trouble. He's been in trouble one or two times."

Thurman is the quieter of the two, although he had no problems with false modesty after the Bengals picked him.

"I'm trying to steal the spotlight from Chad Johnson a little bit," Thurman said, referring to the Pro Bowl receiver who loves to make Headlines.

Pollack chuckled when told of his remark.

"That's OK. There's nothing wrong with that," he said. "He's a good player. If I was him, I'd talk big, too. He plays ball like you're supposed to."

There's no telling how long it will take them to crack the lineup. It could happen this season, if middle linebacker Nate Webster has problems recovering from his torn knee tendon and if outside linebacker Kevin Hardy struggles to keep up.

The Dawgs are planning to get there together.

"It's exciting to be back together, someone you know and someone you're familiar with," Pollack said. "We were close - not best friends off the field, but when we were with each other, we were always having fun and clowning around."